1-2 Timothy - Introduction

Good morning and welcome to Troy Community Church...

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I pray that all of you are doing well during this crazy time of a virus shutdown. I am praying that this will slow down so we can go back to normal and many of us can go back to work.
We are going to study both letters to Timothy over the next 2-3 months, so please start reading these NT letters over and over. Focused attention on a text can really be fruitful - reading it several times helps us to see things we would typically read over without notice.

I am not sure how I will go through these two letters, but I will be covering both of them. Just not sure I will go chapter by chapter.

This morning I want to give you a basic introduction into 1-2 Timothy. Do not try to remember all the details, just try to get the overall picture...the metadata if you will.

There are basically two competing theories as to when these letters were written:
1. Sometime around 62AD with Paul in prison in Rome facing execution.
2. Sometime much later pieces of 2-3 letters were patched together after Paul's death, written either in the 90's or even into the early second century.

I have always held to the first view...that these are legitimate letters of Paul, written shortly before his death in Rome.

Over the years I have been confronted with historical evidence that has caused me to doubt that position and question it, but I seem to always come back to the simple explanation that these are authentic personal letters from Paul to his younger assistant, Timothy.

I am going to cover some of the reasons for doubt, then give reasons for holding the traditional view. I do not want to get into the weeds, so this will be a simple overview.

For those who want to read more details I point you to the Black's Commentary by JND Kelly, an excellent British scholar of early Christian history. You can read almost all of his Introduction on Google Books.

Also, Gordon Fee and Luke Timothy Johnson.
All three of these are highly respected scholars who hold to the conventional position.

The first issue is language and style of the letters.
These short letters contain better Greek than Paul's other NT letters. Both the grammar and the vocabulary point to a writer who knows Greek as his first language.

Linguistic scholars tell us that when Paul gets angry in his letters his Greek kind of falls apart. I think of Ricky Ricardo when he gets angry with Lucy.

Even I can see that the Greek of these letters is better than Paul's other letters...and I am FAR from being a Greek expert.

All of this has a very easy answer: Dr. Sharp mentioned this in his message from Romans. Paul uses scribes for most of his letters. We have several places that give evidence to this.

So grammar and word choice is going to be as diverse as are the young men who actually wrote the letters as Paul dictated.

The second issue is the nature of the false teaching. Many scholars suggest that these letters are addressing what sounds like gnosticism.

Gnosticism really did not appear until the middle of the second century, thus the idea is that Paul could not have written these letters.

The most serious issue addressed is in 2 Timothy and it is the nature of the resurrection.

Some of you may remember that I spoke about what I called pre-gnostic ideas when I taught through 1 Corinthians AND the Thessalonian letters, AND the letter to the Hebrews.

In these letters Paul argues against people claiming that either there is no resurrection, OR that the resurrection had already happened, OR that the resurrection was something other than a physical resurrection of a real body.

1 Cor 15:12 Paul says that some of these naysayers claim there was no resurrection. v35 he says some are questioning what kind of "body" the resurrected body will be.

At the same time this group of people were boasting of their great spiritual wisdom and knowledge, yet it seems they boasted in ch5 that they were tolerant of a man having sex with his stepmother!

All of this starts sounding a bit like Gnosticism.

The Thessalonians were apparently not sure the believers who had already died would be resurrected. In the second letter Paul says that somebody had either sent them a letter or given them a prophecy saying the resurrection had already happened.

In Colossians 2:18 Paul warns against those who are worshipping angels?!?
You might remember that in our study of the letter to the Hebrews I talked about how the writer was arguing against the extensive angelology that was developing.

Making a big deal about angels was a common characteristic of gnosticism in the second century.

So, all of these issues seem to be signs of something that eventually becomes full-blown Gnosticism in the second century.
My point?

Using bits of gnostic-like evidence to date the Timothy letters into the second century is to overlook similar evidence in accepted Pauline letters clearly written in the first century.

There are other issues, but once again I am convinced that these are genuine first century letters of Paul, written by a scribe who obviously speaks Greek as his first language.
[12 Min]

After Paul planted the church in Ephesus [Acts 19], he decided to go to Jerusalem and he is arrested.

He is eventually taken to Rome - we get this story in the book of Acts which ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome.

When and how to fit this picture of Paul back in a serious Roman prison, facing death in 2 Timothy...is not easy. This is partly why theories of someone else writing these letters late in the first century come into play.

On his way to Jerusalem he calls for the elders of the church in Ephesus and meets with them on the sandy shore of Troas, recorded in Acts 20.

Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.
29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.
30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.
31 So be on your guard!
Acts 20:28-31

I will give more details on how scholars think this was played out next week.

So....let's get into the actual text of 1 Timothy:

3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer
4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God's work - which is by faith.


So we immediately see three things:
1. Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus to deal with people teaching false doctrine. Paul saw this coming: it could have been prophetic, but it could also have been Paul knowing the egos and the hearts of men.

2. As we saw in his comments recorded in Acts 20, these false teachers apparently came from within the church.

3. His letter is intended to hold Timothy to his job.

v3...command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer...

v7...they want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about...

Paul even names two of these false teachers:
19 ...some have rejected [the gospel] and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.
20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

Lastly, let's read from Paul's second letter...talking about these false teachers:

17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

THIS IS SIMILAR to the teaching that we saw Paul address in 2 Thessalonians:

2:2 ...do not become quickly unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us - whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by a letter - asserting that the day of the Lord has already come.

If you remember, in 2 Thessalonians Paul teaches that the Day of the Lord would be His coming on the clouds to bring an end to this age. At that time the dead in Christ will be raised.

So again, this is a false teaching about the resurrection.

For those of you who have been listening to our biblical studies, I hope you are starting to see and understand WHY so much of our biblical text was written:
- for correction
- to combat false doctrine...
- to confront those teaching false doctrine
- to fight against those who are attacking the apostles
[22 Min]

Many of us have a tendency to think the early church was a model of Christian faith.

This is FAR from the truth. The NT Church was just as messed up as we are now. Some were engaging in behaviors that Paul and the other writers were very unhappy about.

They had people attacking the very apostles who were responsible for bringing the faith...

People teaching falsely about the resurrection and the nature of Christian living...

We know ALL of this because we have the NT documents which present these very details.

Paul has seen these strange ideas in Corinth, in Thessalonica and now he is seeing similar ideas in Ephesus.

In Chap 1 verses 6-11 Paul talks about how these men are trying to be teachers of the law, but do not know what they are talking about.

So there is a Jewish element to these false teachers. This is NOT uncommon for Paul: it happened in the Galatian church, the Philippian church...and now in the church of Ephesus.
In Chap 1 verses 12-16 Paul talks about his own failing and calling from God:

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord...that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
13 Even though I was once a blasphemer...and a violent man, I was shown mercy...
15 Here is a trustworthy saying...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst.

[Notice here that Paul uses "ego eimi", first person, present active indicative - "I am" the worst...not "I was" the worst. Paul sees his sinfulness as a present issue.]

16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience...

So Paul gives an introduction to the false teachers...

Now he gives an introduction of himself as an apostle - he says that the LORD Jesus Christ appointed him.

Paul is laying out his case for those attacking his authority in Ephesus.

Then in Chap 1, verses 18-19,
18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you,
that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience...

So now he is introducing Timothy as his personal spokesman to these false teachers. This letter would be read out loud to the church so there would be NO mistake - Timothy is Paul's general on the ground.

AND He is charging Timothy to stand firm against the cultural assault that is in opposition to the Christian faith in Ephesus.

What does this mean for us today?
We are surrounded by a culture that is trying to push us away from the kingdom of God.

But does this letter call ALL of us to be vocal and aggressive in defending the gospel?

The letter is written to the bishop of the church of Ephesus. That is basically who Timothy was at the time of this writing - he was responsible to give oversight [episcopas] to all the leaders of the churches meeting in homes in Ephesus.

So, I am not sure that ALL of us are to take Paul's words to Timothy as directed immediately to us.

But all of us should be ready to represent the gospel.
And we want to do it in a way that is gracious...keeping the door open to those we challenge.


If we are aggressive...rude...boastful...
A few will respond, but we will turn some away when a dose of grace may have encouraged them to stick around for another chance to hear.

My challenge to you this morning is to keep yourself from being so immersed by the culture that you do not even notice how the current is taking you downstream...away from God's purpose....away from His family of believers....away from His kingdom.

This usually happens slowly so that you do not notice it until you are FAR away from Him.

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Troy Community Church
Christian Fellowship
1300 Henderson Highway
Troy, AL 36079